Sunday, January 31, 2010
This year we received a curious email: would we be interested in looking after 4 cats while the owners could be away for a sailing holiday. They had seen our listing on the seniors home exchange website and were just interested in having us look after their darlings without a house swap. It took us all of 5 minutes to reply in the affirmative. As a result we spent two wonderful weeks in Paris at the beginning and end of our stay and 4 weeks in the Basque region of France near Biarritz. The pussies were gone during the day, giving us a chance to explore the incredible countryside near St. Pee sur Nivelle during the day and learn about a way of life we had not known before.
This was the view from our window
A view of Biarritz
A colourful service at the 15th century church at St. Pee sur Nivelle
Not bad in exchange for looking after cats don't you think?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Home Exchange and the Affordable Travel Club, the Way to Go
Recently my wife and I did a home exchange with a couple from Turkey. Imagine living in Istanbul for a period of several weeks and experiencing all this ancient city has to offer.
This year we also joined "The Affordable Travel Club" for an annual fee of $65. The idea is that you will host or be hosted for a nominal gratuity of $20 a night and when you are the host that you will serve a breakfast and spend at least an hour with your guest(s) showing them around in the community.
It is also understood that you will not stay for more than 4 nights. However, this year we contacted a lady in Melbourne in Australia to suggest we would like to stay for 5 weeks and allow her to charge a fair market value for the accommodation. Her response was "no worries. You can stay for the 5 weeks for $20 a night!"
The idea behind "The Affordable Travel Club" is brilliant. It's another way to go and see the world.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
When visiting a country, there is always the temptation to romantisize the experience, to exaggerate the positive and ignore the negative. But there is something about the children of Turkey that continues to fascinate me. Even in the poorest of villages or slums of the city, they are always ready to meet you with their wonderful spontaneity. Just look at the picture of the teens below: there is no sulleness, no "whatever" attitude, only a willingness to meet a stranger with a refreshing openess and spontaneity.